Enacts the "Veterans Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Act"; directs the veterans affairs commission to develop and update a New York state interagency plan to improve outreach, assessment and care for veterans and their families who are experiencing mental health, major depression and/or substance abuse problems; requires a report be issued each year after the effective date.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to enacting the "Veterans Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Act"
PURPOSE: The purpose of the bill is to require the New York state Veteran's Affairs Commission to develop and update, in consultation with The Office of Mental Health, The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, The Department of Health and The Department of Labor, a New York state interagency plan to improve outreach and assessment, and care for veterans and their families who are experiencing mental health and/or substance abuse problems.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 - Legislative findings and intent.
Section 2 - "This act shall be known as the "Veterans Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Act."
Section 3 - Two new subdivisions are added to Section 352 of the executive law. This section of law deals with the powers and duties of the New York State Veterans' Affairs Commission.
Section 4 - The effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: Combat-related mental illness has been and still is a critical issue for American war veterans. Veterans who have served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam are still dealing with the aftermath of war. More than 85,000 New Yorkers have participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or both, since September 11, 2001. According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, at least one in three Iraq veterans and one in nine Afghanistan veterans will face mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or post traumatic stress disorder. Multiple tours have increased the stress of combat. Unfortunately, the existing service-delivery system lacks the capacity to meet their needs and those of their families. The lack of integrated services is a longstanding problem in the mental health service-delivery system, but with so many veterans returning home with both mental and chemical dependency, it is nothing short of a crisis.
This legislation is based on testimony that was offered at a joint hearing with the Assembly standing committees on Veterans' Affairs, Mental Health and Alcohol & Drugs on co-occurring disorders. This proposal calls for an annual state interagency planning effort, which will hopefully begin to address the lack of integrated mental health and substance-abuse services. The proposed planning process recognizes the need to develop services outside the federal Department of Veterans Affairs system to meet the needs of veterans and their families who are either ineligible or chose not to use them.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A.11098 of 2010
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: The New York State Veterans' Affairs Commission is already established in law. This legislation expands their duties. Members appointed to the Commission receive no salary or other compensation.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect thirty days after it shall have become a law, however, the first New York state interagency plan as described in subdivision 6 of section 352 of the executive law, as added by section three of this act, shall be completed no later than one year after such effective date.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6640 IN SENATE March 7, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sens. DeFRANCISCO, CARLUCCI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Veter- ans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to enacting the "Veterans Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Act" THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative findings and intent. The legislature recognizes that throughout their service, many of the military personnel from New York state experienced trauma during active duty, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, placing many of them in high risk categories for triggering substance abuse or mental health issues. More often than not, mental illness and substance abuse present themselves simultaneously or as a co-occurring disorder. The consequences of co-occurring disorders, particularly when untreated or poorly treated, are severe. These disor- ders increase the cost of healthcare due to the frequent use of inpa- tient treatment, the inability to adhere to such treatment, the risk of suicide, crime victimization, homelessness, and incarceration. The legislature further finds that the unemployment rate and fierce competition for a sparse selection of jobs contribute to the tough obstacle that combat veterans face as they make the transition home from war. The legislature further finds that New York state has recognized its responsibility for care for our veterans and their families, offering an array of economic and health benefits. Now we are called to ensure that the returning combat veterans can obtain the benefits that they are entitled to from the various state agencies which offer help to the returning servicemen and women to make the transition from military personnel to veteran. S 2. Short title. This act shall be known as the "Veterans Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Act". S 3. Section 352 of the executive law is amended by adding two new subdivisions 6 and 7 to read as follows:EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD03276-03-2 S. 6640 2
6. THE COMMISSION SHALL DEVELOP AND UPDATE, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH, THE OFFICE OF ALCOHOLISM AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, A NEW YORK STATE INTERAGENCY PLAN TO IMPROVE OUTREACH, ASSESSMENT, AND CARE FOR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES WHO ARE EXPERIENCING MENTAL HEALTH, MAJOR DEPRESSION AND/OR SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEMS. THE PLAN WOULD ADDRESS THE NEED FOR A RANGE OF ADDITIONAL SERVICES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO: A. THE NEED FOR HOUSING THAT IS ACCESSIBLE TO VETERANS WITH PHYSICAL AND/OR MENTAL DISABILITIES; B. SUICIDE PREVENTION; C. SERVICES THAT ADDRESS THE SPECIAL NEEDS OF FEMALE SERVICE MEMBERS OR VETERANS; D. SERVICES THAT ADDRESS THE SPECIAL NEEDS OF PHYSICALLY DISABLED VETERANS; E. PEER OUTREACH AND SUPPORT PROGRAMS; F. SERVICES TO MEET THE EMOTIONAL NEEDS OF CHILDREN, SPOUSE, AND/OR DOMESTIC PARTNER OF SERVICE MEMBERS OR VETERANS; G. SERVICES AND CONSULTATION FOR VETERANS IN SEARCH OF EMPLOYMENT; AND H. ACCESSIBILITY AND COORDINATION OF INFORMATION. 7. THE COMMISSION SHALL SUBMIT A REPORT TO THE DIRECTOR EACH YEAR AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SUBDIVISION. SUCH REPORT SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, A DESCRIPTION OF THE COMMISSION'S ACTIV- ITIES CONCERNING THE NEW YORK STATE INTERAGENCY PLAN. THE DIRECTOR SHALL SUBMIT SUCH REPORT OR A SYNOPSIS OF SUCH REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR AS PROVIDED IN SECTION THREE HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE OF THIS ARTICLE. S 4. This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have become a law, however, the first New York state interagency plan as described in subdivision 6 of section 352 of the executive law, as added by section three of this act, shall be completed not later than one year after such effective date.